Car and Motorcycle Collision Causes
When cars and motorcycles travel along the same road, there's no doubt that drivers must look out for one another. The very feature that makes riding a motorcycle so enticing is the same feature that places riders at risk for serious injuries—the motorcycle's openness and exposure. As long as everyone shares the road and drives in a responsible manner, motorcyclists can experience safe travels.
The results are often catastrophic when other drivers fail to acknowledge motorcycles or engage in reckless behavior behind the wheel. If you have experienced serious injuries due to a crash between a car and a motorcycle caused by another driver's negligence, consider contacting a Florida motorcycle accident attorney to discuss your case. Speak with the Dolman Law Group today for more information.
The Most Common Cause of Crashes Between a Car and a Motorcycle
Driver negligence is the most common cause of motorcycle accidents. When the driver of a passenger vehicle fails to exercise care and caution while driving, they place everyone around them, especially motorcyclists, at risk of serious harm.
Research shows that other motorists are at fault in more than half of all multi-vehicle accidents involving motorcycles. Per passenger vehicle mile traveled, motorcyclists are 27 times more likely to die in an accident and five times more likely to be injured than passenger car occupants.
A Florida driver's license is a privilege—not a right. Just because a passenger vehicle is larger than a motorcycle doesn't mean the driver has the right to bully, ignore, or engage in reckless actions on the road. Here are just a few examples of how driver negligence can result in a motorcycle and car crash:
Motorcycle Accidents Caused by Driver's Failure to Yield the Right-of-Way
One of the most dangerous places for a motorcycle rider is an intersection. A car driver may not notice a motorcycle as they turn their car, which can result in an intersection accident. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) cites intersections as the most common locations for accidents involving cars and motorcycles.
Cars turning left at an intersection often fail to yield the right-of-way due to not seeing a motorcycle. Researchers claim this is a cognitive issue because car drivers simply do not think about or expect a motorcycle to cross their path. Due to motorcycles not being top-of-mind for other drivers, the results are often catastrophic when the two meet during an intersection collision. Accidents that occur at an intersection can result in severe injuries, such as broken bones, back and neck injuries, and knee injuries.
Florida Right-of-Way Intersection Laws
It's vital for all drivers, whether on a motorcycle or in a car, to understand right-of-way laws to prevent accidents at intersections. With the Florida right-of-way laws on top of their mind, motorists can be more cautious at intersections and aware of who has the right of way in a number of situations.
Florida Statute 316.121 governs the right-of-way at intersections. It states two rules that are vital to preventing motorcycle accidents at intersections:
- A driver of a vehicle entering an intersection must yield the right-of-way to another vehicle entering from a different highway.
- When two vehicles enter an intersection at the same time, the driver on the left must yield the right-of-way to the driver on the right.
A Driver Not Checking Blind Spots Can Cause a Motorcycle Accident
Despite side and rearview mirrors, there are plenty of blind spots surrounding a car. At least 40 percent of a car's perimeter is not visible from the driver's seat, making lane changes especially dangerous for motorcycles.
Drivers who make sudden lane changes without signaling leave motorcyclists little time to react. No one should experience life-changing injuries at the hands of a driver who simply didn't take the time to signal or properly adjust their mirrors.
Lack of Perception from a Driver Leading to a Motorcycle Accident
Many drivers fail to judge the distance of an approaching motorcycle properly. Drivers often pull out in front of a rider, not understanding the speed at which the motorcyclist is driving. The NHTSA recommends drivers wait for motorcycles to pass before entering any roadway or city street.
Failure to wait before pulling into an intersection places the rider at risk of needing to engage in emergency braking, which can throw the motorcycle rider over the handlebars. The rider can also lose control, causing the motorcycle to slide from under them. In either case, the rider will most likely strike the hard surface of the road or another vehicle, resulting in catastrophic injuries or death.
Distracted Driving Causes Motorcycle Accidents
With advances in smartphone technology, there are growing concerns about distracted driving. Research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that while 96 percent of those surveyed viewed texting and emailing from behind the wheel as a serious threat, approximately half as many admitted to engaging in the behavior.
Approximately nine people die every day in the United States at the hands of distracted drivers. Distracted driving goes beyond smartphone use and includes the following types of behaviors described by the Centers for Disease Control:
- Cognitive: Anything that takes your mind off driving. This includes thinking about anything other than driving safely, such as conversations, what you're going to do at work, or future plans.
- Visual: Anything that takes your eyes off the road. Visual distractions, such as your phone, someone else in the car, or something going on outside of the vehicle, can take your eyes off the road and prevent you from reacting to unpredictable obstacles and other cars on the road.
- Manual: Anything that takes your hands off the wheel. This can include eating, drinking, adjusting the radio, putting on makeup, or texting and talking on the phone.
A driver who reaches into their purse for an item, eats a sandwich while driving, or drives while upset is a distracted driver. By the time a distracted driver sees a motorcycle, it may be too late for either driver to react and prevent the collision.
Motorcycle Accidents Caused by Driving Under the Influence
Despite numerous public safety campaigns, people continue to drink and drive. While the Florida legal limit for a driver's blood alcohol concentration is .08, the negative effects can start with a driver's first drink.
Alcohol affects a person's driving ability in the following ways:
- Impairing reaction time
- Affecting vision, resulting in blurred or double vision
- Impairing color distinction, making it difficult to distinguish traffic light colors
- Negatively altering judgment and decision-making
- Lowering a person's ability to concentrate
- Slowing down reflexes and affecting coordination
Driving under the influence of drugs like amphetamines or opioids can have similar effects and results. When drivers drive under the influence of drugs and alcohol, the risk of harming a motorcyclist or others on the road only increases. They may not notice a motorcycle sharing the road, perform a lane change without accounting for a motorcycle, or misjudge the space between their car and the motorcycle. Any of these mistakes can lead to a collision with a motorcycle, leading to severe injuries.
Drowsy Driving Leading to Motorcycle Accidents
According to the National Sleep Foundation, driving while drowsy can have the same effects as driving under the influence. Impaired judgment and reduced reaction time can result in a drowsy driver drifting into your path. Drowsy driving happens because of a lack of sleep, fatigue from long work hours, or undiagnosed medical conditions.
When you ride your motorcycle, you have no way of knowing what another driver is doing while traveling beside you. While keeping your eyes on the road, you remain focused while a driver next to you on the road may be a motorcycle accident risk since they recently left a bar or worked a long shift with no sleep. You cannot know that a driver next to you recently left a bar, worked a long shift without sleep, or failed to watch out for motorcycles.
Their failure to take a second look or remain alert can change your life instantly. Negligent drivers surround us all every day, and no matter how defensively you drive, encountering one is a real possibility.
Common Types of Motorcycle Injuries
A motorcycle doesn't have a sturdy frame, airbag support, or other collision protections like those in a car. With no seatbelt, ejection from your motorcycle during a collision is almost a given. Protective gear, such as a helmet, gloves, and special clothing, can only do so much to prevent serious injuries.
When the human body strikes a hard surface, several catastrophic injuries can result, including:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI): The Centers for Disease Control defines a TBI as a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts normal brain function. While a helmet provides a certain level of protection, the force of a collision can still result in a TBI, which can lead to memory problems, persistent headaches, and seizures. Never remove your helmet until medical help arrives.
- Spinal cord injury: This type of injury is one of the most catastrophic injuries a person can experience and can result in paralysis. It results from direct trauma to the back and spinal cord, either from a direct hit from a car or from colliding with the ground after falling from your motorcycle. Many patients with a spinal cord injury must rely on a power chair for mobility and require home modifications and assistance with personal care. The costs associated with such an injury can reach into the millions of dollars per year of the patient's life.
- Broken bones: One or more of a rider's bones may break during a motorcycle crash. Broken bones can occur in your arms, legs, neck, and back. Depending upon the severity of the breaks, you may face multiple surgeries and extensive physical and occupational therapy. Daily tasks such as bathing and dressing can become difficult, and your favorite leisure activities, like golf or dancing, are either placed on hold or must stop forever.
- Road rash: This is an abrasion caused by your skin scraping along a hard surface. If a car collides with your motorcycle, you can fly off your vehicle and slide across the ground. The friction can result in road rash, leading to intense pain, permanent scars, and infections.
- Internal injuries: This is damage to the vital organs or internal bleeding caused by blunt force trauma or penetrating trauma. Without protection for the body on a motorcycle, a motorcyclist can be exposed to intense trauma to the vital organs, which can lead to organ failure, seizures, and hemorrhagic shock.
Experiencing one or more of these serious injuries due to another driver's negligence isn't fair. Florida law allows accident victims to bring civil actions in cases involving motorcycle accident liability. However, the laws are quite complex and require the expertise of an experienced personal injury attorney. Medical costs continue to rise, and ensuring you receive the medical treatment you deserve often means pursuing litigation.
Why You Need a Motorcycle Accident Attorney
A motorcycle accident caused by another driver is a serious matter that demands legal representation. Public safety campaigns to share the road or to "give a second look a second thought" do little when another driver is in a hurry, distracted, or drunk. When your injuries are severe, you may face lengthy hospital stays, treatments, surgeries, and missed time from work. The emotional and financial stress of your situation requires rest even though you constantly worry about your bills.
Insurance companies like to make an initial settlement offer soon after the accident to settle the case quickly. While their initial offer may seem like a large sum of money for you, chances are it will not adequately cover your future medical needs. Keep in mind that insurance companies are looking out for their best interests and not yours, so they will employ insurance adjusters to limit your settlement to increase their profits.
Consulting with a motorcycle attorney regarding the details of your case is a smart idea. In fact, it is in your best interest to not speak with insurance company representatives and especially not to sign anything until you speak with an attorney. Many Florida motorcycle accident attorneys offer free case evaluations, so you have nothing to lose by calling one. You can gather your evidence and schedule a consultation, or if you are unable to leave the hospital, ask the law firm if someone can come to you.
What Damages Can You Seek in a Motorcycle Accident Claim?
There are two types of damages you can pursue in a motorcycle accident claim, which are:
- Economic Damages: These are damages with a bill attached to them. It is any cost that you incurred because of your motorcycle accident. Injuries resulting from a motorcycle accident can lead to steep medical bills, lost work, and disability costs, all of which fall under economic damages.
- Non-Economic Damages: These are damages that do not have a bill associated with them. They are damages like pain and suffering you've endured since the motorcycle accident. These intangible damages do not have a specific cost attached to them, which means you will have to speak with a motorcycle accident attorney to evaluate their value after your motorcycle accident.
A motorcycle accident lawyer can help you prove you suffered these damages by collecting and presenting evidence of the at-fault party's liability. They can also help you prove how these damages affected your life and ensure they are proven to have come from the motorcycle accident.
Common Motorcycle Accident Damages
If your motorcycle accident claim is successful, you could receive compensation for damages such as:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Lost earning potential
- Property damages
- Disability costs
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Burial and funeral costs
Justice for Motorcyclists Injured by Negligent Drivers
Ask anyone why they ride a motorcycle, and the answer often involves the freedom of the open road. Motorcyclists state that riding engages all their senses, that it is relaxing, saves on fuel, and more. The freedom that comes from two wheels is exhilarating for riders and their passengers.
There's no excuse for driver behavior that results in serious injury—and sometimes death—for a motorcyclist. Your ability to ride can come to an end forever because of someone else's poor decisions. You can attempt to prevent injuries by wearing a Department of Transportation-approved helmet. While helmets are not required in Florida, riders over the age of 21 who choose not to wear one must prove that they carry at least $10,000 in medical insurance coverage.
The following are some other steps you can take to ensure a safer ride:
- Wear reflective clothing
- Clean your mirrors
- Check all lights to ensure they are in proper working order
- Obey traffic rules
- Avoid dangerous behaviors, like drinking and driving
These proactive steps are your best defenses against a possible accident. Other actions are out of your control, such as those taken by reckless and negligent drivers. Sometimes, there is simply nothing you can do to avoid a collision caused by someone else. If your motorcycle ride turned tragic due to another driver's negligence, you have rights under Florida law. Learn more about them and how a personal injury attorney can help you by scheduling a free consultation as soon as possible.
Contact Dolman Law Group for Help With Your Motorcycle Accident Claim
Your life can go from carefree to uncertain in an instant. A personal injury attorney can help you and your family get through this difficult time by providing the legal representation you deserve. Attorneys with experience in motorcycle cases have the skills needed to negotiate with insurance companies. If they are unable to reach a fair settlement, the legal team you hire should be unafraid to go to trial.
The right personal injury attorney will work for you while treating you and your family with respect. They keep the lines of communication open, so you never have to wonder about the status of your case. Remember, a personal injury attorney is on your side throughout the litigation process.
Motorcycles and cars can safely share the road if everyone takes care and exercises caution behind the wheel. Unfortunately, too many drivers take risks that sometimes result in serious harm. If you ride a motorcycle and experience serious injuries due to no fault of your own, consider taking legal steps to protect your financial and medical future.
Dolman Law Group is an award-winning law firm with a long case history of satisfied clients that have come away from their ordeals with settlements and verdicts that have helped them to get back on their feet. Our motorcycle accident attorneys can provide you with the resources and skills of a large award-winning law firm while still maintaining close communication and personal attention that one may expect from a smaller firm.
To contact Dolman Law Group about a free consultation on your motorcycle accident case, you can either call our Clearwater office at 727-451-6900 or fill out a contact form online.
Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 N Belcher Rd
Clearwater, FL 33765
Phone: (727) 451-6900